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Benderson project requires Falls to abandon unpaved portion of 76th street

NIAGARA FALLS – Benderson Development wants to build a new 65,000-square-foot store in a plaza on Niagara Falls Boulevard and says it needs the city to abandon an unpaved portion of a street in order for the project to move forward.

The project, for a tenant whose identity Benderson would not disclose, is proposed for the Niagara Consumer Square plaza, where the main existing tenants are Tops and Target. It would require the City Council to give up an unpaved portion of 76th Street north of Niagara Falls Boulevard. The area is about 0.66 acres, Benderson’s James A. Boglioli told the city Planning Board on Wednesday night.

Plans for the expansion on the east side of the plaza would involve Benderson moving a berm next to Target that contains contaminated soil to the east. Benderson also owns a strip of land on the east side of 76th Street, which would be part of the new site for the contaminated material.

Thomas J. DeSantis, the city’s senior planner, said the city has to consider potential effects on traffic and transportation in the area. The abandonment also must not harm the development capacity of neighboring parcels, DeSantis said.

An adjacent landowner expressed those very concerns during a public hearing on the matter Wednesday night.

The attorney for the owner of a parcel located to the north of the site told the board that abandoning that portion of 76th Street would harm his client’s ability to develop a nearly 40-acre parcel that stretches from Factory Outlet Boulevard almost to 80th Street.

David G. Boniello, representing property owner Rick Johnson, said the property has the potential to be developed and he and his client oppose abandonment.

Nearby land has only recently been developed, which is indicative of potential in the area, Boniello said, and Johnson’s parcel, which is adjacent to the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, is “one of the largest pieces of commercial property in the City of Niagara Falls” yet to be developed.

Johnson’s land, which includes a wetland on the eastern portion, is just north of Mooradian Drive, another street in the area that’s only partially constructed.

The street could be expanded east to 80th Street, though there are currently no plans to do so. Mooradian is paved only from Factory Outlet Boulevard to behind Tops.

As part of the proposal, Benderson has offered to allow traffic access through the plaza toward Niagara Falls Boulevard if Mooradian is ever constructed.

“We’re offering to provide a connection,” Boglioli said.